Consumers Increasingly Seeking Out WiFi

Nearly a quarter of consumers would switch preferred gym or health club membership for an overall better WiFi connection.

consumers and wifi

While nearly all consumers (97 percent) connect to and use WiFi in their homes, the vast majority (76 percent) also connect to WiFi outside of the home on a regular basis, according to a Xirrus study of 300 consumers.

To break it down even further, 88 percent of consumers said they connect to WiFi at work, 82 percent connect in hotels, 72 percent connect in airports and 63 percent connect in coffee shops.

"All organizations, be they private, public, government or for consumers, benefit from WiFi," Shane Buckley, CEO of Xirrus, told eWEEK. "The majority of traffic on devices is carried on WiFi networks. The bulk of the world’s commerce is transacted over WiFi."

In addition, two-thirds (66 percent) of travelers said they would change hotels for a better WiFi experience, and nearly half (49 percent) said they would change preferred airlines.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of consumers would switch preferred gym or health club membership for an overall better WiFi connection.

Consumers also appear to experience bad WiFi everywhere they go, with the vast majority of respondents (84 percent) reporting that bad WiFi has prevented them from doing their job.

"IT departments should deploy WiFi solutions that have secure guest access, secure on-boarded network options for employees with unknown devices, in addition to standard corporate WiFi networks," Buckley said. "Organizations should monitor WiFi SSIDs [service set identifiers] and block suspicious networks, to the extent allowable by law. Education is key—if in doubt, don’t connect."

When it comes to security, most (79 percent) don’t feel that public WiFi is secure, yet the majority of consumers (62 percent) use it anyway. Moreover, when connecting to public WiFi, consumers primarily use social media (74 percent), follow sporting events (67 percent) and chat online (59 percent).

"Ubiquitous WiFi is a long way away, even in metropolitan areas. Public hotspot WiFi networks are individually managed and require multiple steps to connect," Buckley noted. "Customers find this confusing, cumbersome and oftentimes inconsistent across device types. Our goal as WiFi vendors is to find a way to onboard the network onto the device and eliminate the captive portal. The vendor that figures this out is fixing a massive pain point in public WiFi."

He mentioned the most surprising finding from the survey was the fact that more than three-quarters of users think public WiFi is not secure but 62 percent still use it.

"In all areas of usage of WiFi, over 80 percent of respondents experience bad WiFi," he said. "All WiFi is not the same. Customers need reliable, secure and predictable WiFi."